Not all car washes are created equal, according to the owners of locally based Drive & Shine.
Since its founding by Haji Tehrani back in 1997, Drive & Shine has sought to separate itself from other car washes by the appearance of its buildings, the courtesy of its employees and the quality of its services.
Tehrani was working as an engineer for a company in the region but always wanted to operate his own business, said his wife Sherry Hocking Tehrani, director of marketing for Drive & Shine. Always a car lover, he had an idea to replicate some of the upscale washes he had seen while living on the East Coast.
Tehrani attended conventions and visited other cities before building his first location in Mishawaka. Since that start, the business has grown to five locations with a sixth ready to open soon at 4035 S. Michigan Street in South Bend.
But far from being content with its current footprint, Drive & Shine continues to look for new locations where it believes the Drive & Shine difference will be embraced by customers who want more from a car wash.
Sherry Tehrani said her husband, who serves as board president of the International Car Wash Association, continues to travel looking for the latest technology and trends to incorporate into the business. Their son, Matthew, who is Notre Dame chemical engineering graduate runs the technology and chemistry division of the chain.
When choosing a car wash, consumers should consider the length of the cleaning tunnel said Matthew. The tunnels at Drive & Shine approach 200 feet and might contain nearly $1 million in cleaning equipment, she said.
The extra length and cleaning equipment means that Drive & Shine can use extremely gentle foam-like materials and biodegradable soaps to clean every corner of a vehicle without damaging the car or the environment, Matthew explained.
Over time, the harsh treatment at a smaller wash that uses cloth and cheap acidic soap will translate into damage to the paint, glass and seals on a vehicle, said Matthew, adding that Drive & Shine always seeks to minimize its environmental impact.
Besides using biodegradable soaps, Drive & Shine also has been recognized by the Carwash Association for its effort to reduce water usage. At locations with oil-change operations, waste oil is recycled to heat the buildings in the winter months.
Drive & Shine also offers a starting wage of $12 an hour so that it can hire and retain the best people that it can find to interact with its customers, said Tehrani, adding that some employees have been with the company almost from the beginning.
Though Drive & Shine separates itself by offering the “we-do-it-all for you” concept at most locations, some of the newest ones – such as the one on South Michigan will offer washes that allow customers to vacuum their own vehicles.
“The one thing that customers can always expect is a high-quality, high-value service that’s second to none,” Tehrani said.
Drive & Shine
Locations: 5406 N. Main St., Mishawaka, 2714 Cassopolis St., Elkhart; 400 N. Nappanee St. (limited services); 4340 Ironwood Drive, South Bend; 1350 U.S. 41 N, Schererville; and opening soon at 4035 S. Michigan St., South Bend.
Employees: About 100
Online: www.driveandshine.com or www.facebook.com/DriveandShine